The Jungle Book (1967 movie)

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The Jungle Book
Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman
Produced by Walt Disney
Screenplay by Larry Clemmons
Ralph Wright
Ken Anderson
Vance Gerry
Floyd Norman (uncredited)[1]
Bill Peet (uncredited)[2]
Narrated by Sebastian Cabot
Starring Bruce Reitherman
Phil Harris
Sebastian Cabot
Louis Prima
George Sanders
Sterling Holloway
Music by George Bruns (Score)
Terry Gilkyson
Richard M. Sherman
Robert B. Sherman (Songs)
Studio Walt Disney Productions
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution
Release date(s) October 18, 1967 (1967-10-18)
Running time 78 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Money made $205,843,612[3]


The Jungle Book is a 1967 American animated movie. It was produced by Walt Disney Productions. It was released on October 18, 1967. It is the 19th animated movie in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. It was inspired by the stories about the feral child Mowgli from the book of the same name by Rudyard Kipling. It was directed by Wolfgang Reitherman. It was the last to be produced by Walt Disney, who died during its production.

The early versions of both the screenplay and the soundtrack followed Kipling's work more closely. There was a dramatic, dark, and sinister tone which Disney did not want in his family movie. The first writer Bill Peet and composer Terry Gilkyson were replaced. The casting employed famous actors and musicians Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, George Sanders and Louis Prima, as well as Disney regulars such as Sterling Holloway, and the director's son, Bruce Reitherman, as Mowgli. The Jungle Book was released to positive reception., with much acclaim to its soundtrack, featuring five songs by the Sherman Brothers and one by Gilkyson, "The Bare Necessities". The movie made over $73 million in the United States in its first release, and as much again from two re-releases.

After the movie's success, Disney later released a live-action remake and a theatrical sequel, The Jungle Book 2.

Plot[change | change source]

Mowgli, a young orphan boy, is found in a basket in the deep jungles of Madhya Pradesh, India. Bagheera, a black panther, discovers the baby. He takes him to a mother Indian Wolf who has just had cubs. She raises him along with her own cubs. Mowgli soon becomes well acquainted with jungle life. Mowgli is shown ten years later, playing with his wolf siblings.

One night, when the wolf tribe learns that Shere Khan, a man-eating Bengal tiger, has returned to the jungle, they realize that Mowgli must be taken to the "man village" for his own safety. Bagheera volunteers to take him back.

They leave that very night, but Mowgli is determined to stay in the jungle. He and Bagheera rest in a tree for the night, when Kaa, a hungry Indian Python, appears and hypnotizes Mowgli into a deep and peaceful sleep, traps him tightly in his coils and tries to devour him, but fails when Bagheera intervenes. The next morning, Mowgli tries to join the elephant patrol led by Colonel Hathi and his wife Winifred. Bagheera finds Mowgli and they argue. This results in Bagheera leaving Mowgli on his own. Mowgli soon meets up with the laid-back, fun-loving sloth bear Baloo, who shows Mowgli the fun of having a care-free life and promises to raise Mowgli himself and never take him back to the Man-Village.

Mowgli now wants to stay in the jungle more than ever. Shortly afterwards, Baloo is tricked and outsmarted by a gang of monkeys who kidnap Mowgli. They take him to their leader, King Louie the orangutan, who makes a deal with Mowgli that if he tells him the secret of making fire like a human, then he will make it so he can stay in the jungle. However, since he was not raised by humans, Mowgli does not know how to make fire. Bagheera and Baloo arrive to rescue Mowgli and in the following chaos, King Louie's palace is destroyed. Bagheera speaks to Baloo that night and convinces him that the jungle will never be safe for Mowgli so long as Shere Khan is there. In the morning, Baloo reluctantly explains to Mowgli that the man village is best for the boy, but Mowgli accuses him of breaking his promise and runs away. As Baloo sets off on foot in search of Mowgli, Bagheera rallies the help of Hathi and his patrol to make a search party. However, Shere Khan himself, who was eavesdropping on Bagheera and Hathi's conversation, is now determined to hunt and kill Mowgli himself. Meanwhile, Mowgli has encountered Kaa once again in a different tree. The hungry python exacts his revenge by hypnotizing Mowgli again, and tries to eat him, but thanks to the unwitting intervention of the suspicious Shere Khan, Mowgli awakens again, tricks the snake again, and escapes.

As a storm gathers, a depressed Mowgli encounters a group of puckish but friendly vultures who closely resemble The Beatles. They agree to be his friends as they too are outcasts, and feel that everyone has to have friends. Shere Khan appears shortly after, scaring off the Vultures and confronting Mowgli. Baloo rushes to the rescue and tries to keep Shere Khan away from Mowgli, but is injured. When lightning strikes a nearby tree and sets it on fire, the vultures swoop in to distract Shere Khan while Mowgli gathers flaming branches and ties them to Shere Khan's tail. As fire is his only fear, the tiger panics and runs off.

Bagheera and Baloo take Mowgli to the edge of the Man-Village, but Mowgli is still hesitant to go there. His mind soon changes when he is smitten by a beautiful young girl from the village who is coming down by the riverside to fetch water. After noticing Mowgli, she "accidentally" drops her water pot, and Mowgli retrieves it for her and follows her into the man village. After Mowgli chooses to stay in the man village, Baloo and Bagheera decide to head home, content that Mowgli is safe and happy with his own kind.

Cast[change | change source]

Asterisks mark actors listed in the opening credits as "Additional Voices".[4][5] [6]

Production[change | change source]

Development and writing[change | change source]

After The Sword in the Stone was released, storyman Bill Peet claimed to Walt Disney that "we [The animation department] can do more interesting animal characters" and suggested that Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book could be used for the studio's next movie.[7] Disney agreed and Peet created an original treatment, with little supervision, as he had done with One Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Sword in the Stone. However, after the disappointing reaction to The Sword in the Stone, Walt Disney decided to become more involved in the story than he had been with the past two movies,[8] with his nephew Roy E. Disney saying that "[he] certainly influenced everything about it. (...) With Jungle Book, he obviously got hooked on the jungle and the characters that lived there."[9]

Peet decided to follow closely the dramatic, dark, and sinister tone of Kipling's book. The book is about the struggles between animals and man. However, the writer decided make the story more straightforward, as the novel is very episodic, with Mowgli going back and forth from the jungle to the man village, and Peet felt that Mowgli returning to the man village should be the ending for the movie. Following suggestions, Peet also created two original characters: Shanti, the human girl with whom Mowgli falls in love, as the animators considered that falling in love would be the best excuse for Mowgli to leave the jungle; and Louie, king of the monkeys. Louie was originally a less comical character, enslaving Mowgli trying to get the boy to teach him to make fire. The orangutan would also show a plot point borrowed from The Second Jungle Book, gold and jewels under his ruins - after Mowgli got to the man village, a poacher would drag the boy back to the ruins in search for the treasure.[2][8] Disney was not happy with how the story was turning out, as he felt it was too dark for family viewing and insisted on script changes. Peet refused, and after a long argument, Peet left the Disney studio in January 1964.[10]

Disney then assigned Larry Clemmons as his new writer and one of the four story men for the movie, giving Clemmons a copy of Kipling's book, and telling him: "The first thing I want you to do is not to read it."[8] Clemmons still looked at the novel, and thought it was too disjointed and without continuity, needing adaptations to fit a movie script. Clemmons wanted to start in media res, with some flashbacks afterwards, but then Disney said to focus on doing the storyline more straight - "Let's do the meat of the picture. Let's estabilish the characters. Let's have fun with it."[11] Although much of Bill Peet's work was discarded, the personalities of the characters remained in the final movie. This was because Disney felt that the story should be kept simple he and that the characters should drive the story. Disney took an active role in the story meetings, acting out each role and helping to explore the emotions of the characters, help create gags and develop emotional sequences.[8] Clemmons would write a rough script with an outline for most scenes. The story artists then discussed how to fill the scenes, including the comedic gags to employ.[1][12] The script also tried to incorporate how the voice actors molded their characters and interacted with each other.[13]

The Jungle Book also marks the last animated movie from the company to have Disney's personal touches, before his death on December 15, 1966.[14]

Casting[change | change source]

In The Jungle Book we tried to incorporate the personalities of the actors that do the voices into the cartoon characters, and we came up with something totally different. When Phil Harris did the voice of Baloo, he gave it a bubble of life. We didn't coach him, just let it happen.

—Wolfgang Reitherman[13]

Many familiar voices inspired the animators in their creation of the characters[8] and helped them shape their personalities.[14] This use of familiar voices for major characters was a rarity in Disney's past movies.[8] The staff was shocked to hear that a wise cracking comedian, Phil Harris was going to be in a Kipling movie. Disney suggested Harris after meeting him at a party.[15] Harris improvised most of his lines, as he considered the scripted lines "didn't feel natural".[7] After Harris was cast, Disneyland Records president Jimmy Johnson suggested Disney to get Louie Prima as King Louie, as he "felt that Louis would be great as foil".[16] Walt also cast other famous actors such as George Sanders as Shere Khan and Sebastian Cabot as Bagheera. Additionally, he cast regular Disney voices such as Sterling Holloway as Kaa, J. Pat O'Malley as Colonel Hathi and Buzzie the Vulture and Verna Felton as Hathi's wife. This was her last movie before she died.[14] David Bailey was originally cast as Mowgli, but his voice changed during production, leading Bailey to not fit the "young innocence of Mowgli's character" which the producers were aiming at anymore. Thus director Wolfgang Reitherman cast his son Bruce, who had just voiced Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree. The animators shot footage of Bruce as a guide for the character's performance.[7][17] Child actress Darlene Carr was going around singing in the studio when composers Sherman Brothers asked her to record a demo of Shanti's song "My Own Home". Carr's performance impressed Disney enough for him to cast her as Shanti.[18]

In the original book, the vultures are grim and evil characters who feast on the dead. Disney lightened it up by having the vultures bearing a physical and vocal resemblance to The Beatles, including the signature mop-top haircut. It was also planned to have the members of the band to both voice the characters and sing their song, "That's What Friends Are For". However, scheduling conflicts, added to John Lennon reacting badly, lead to the idea being discarded.[19] The casting of the vultures still brought a British Invasion musician, Chad Stuart of the duo Chad & Jeremy.[7] In earlier drafts of the scene the vultures had a near-sighted Rhinoceros friend named Rocky, who was to be voiced by Frank Fontaine, however Walt decided to cut the character for feeling that the movie had already much action with the monkeys and vultures.[20]

Animation[change | change source]

While many of the later Disney movies had animators being responsible for single characters, in The Jungle Book the animators were in charge of whole scenes, since many have characters interacting with one another. The animation was done by xerography, with character design, lead by Ken Anderson, employing rough, artistic edges in contrast to the round animals seen in productions such as Dumbo.[21] Anderson also decided to make Shere Khan resemble his voice actor, George Sanders.[7] Backgrounds were hand-painted - with exception of the waterfall, mostly consisting of footage of the Angel Falls - and sometimes scenery was used in both foreground and bottom to create a notion of depth. Following one of Reitherman's trademarks of reusing animation of his previous movies, the wolf cubs are based on dogs from 101 Dalmatians. Animator Milt Kahl based Bagheera and Shere Kahn's movements on live-action felines, which he saw in two Disney productions, A Tiger Walks and the "Jungle Cat" episode of True-Life Adventures.[21] Baloo was also based on footage of bears, even incorporating the animal's liking for scratching. Since Kaa has no limbs, its design got big expressive eyes, and parts of Kaa's body did the action that normally would be done with hands.[22] The monkeys' dance during "I Wan'na Be Like You" was partially inspired by a performance Louis Prima did with his band at Disney's soundstage to convince Walt Disney to cast him.[7]

Music[change | change source]

The instrumental music was written by George Bruns and orchestrated by Walter Sheets. Two of the cues were reused from previous Disney movies. The scene where Mowgli wakes up after escaping King Louie used one of Bruns' themes for Sleeping Beauty; and the scene where Bagheera gives a eulogy to Baloo when he mistakenly thinks the bear was killed by Shere Khan used Paul J. Smith's organ score from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.[23]

The score features eight original songs: seven by the Sherman Brothers and one by Terry Gilkyson. Longtime Disney collaborator Gilkyson was the first songwriter to bring several complete songs which followed the book closely but Walt Disney felt that his efforts were too dark. The only piece of Gilkyson's work that made it to the final movie was his upbeat tune "The Bare Necessities", which was liked by the rest of the movie crew. The Sherman Brothers were then brought in to do a complete rewrite.[7] Disney asked the siblings if they had read Kipling's book and they replied that they had done so "a long, long time ago" and that they had also seen the 1942 version by Alexander Korda. Disney said the "nice, mysterious, heavy stuff" from both works was not what he aimed for, instead going for a "lightness, a Disney touch".[24] Disney frequently brought the composers to the storyline sessions.[7] He asked them to "find scary places and write fun songs" for their compositions[23] that fit in with the story and advanced the plot instead of being interruptive.

Release and reception[change | change source]

Theatrical run[change | change source]

The Jungle Book was released in October 1967,[8] just 10 months after Walt's death.[14] Some copies were in a double feature with Charlie, the Lonesome Cougar.[25] The movie was a success, earning $73 million in just its domestic release,[14] mostly due to the popularity of its musical numbers.[8] The movie was re-released theatrically in North America three times, 1978, 1984, and 1990, and also in Europe throughout the 1980s.[26] The total money made is $141 million in the United States and $205 million worldwide.[3] The North American total, after adjustments for inflation, is estimated to be the 29th highest grossing movie of all time in the United States.[27]

Home media[change | change source]

The Jungle Book was released in the United States on VHS in 1991 as part of the Walt Disney Classics product line, and in 1997 as part of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection for the movie's 30th anniversary.[26] A Limited Issue DVD was released by Buena Vista Home Entertainment in 1999.[28] The movie was released once again as a 2-disc Platinum Edition DVD on October 2, 2007 in honor of its 40th anniversary.[29] The Platinum DVD was put on moratorium in 2010.[30] The movie was released on Blu-ray on February 11, 2014 in the Disney Diamond Edition lineup. It was put on moratorium in January 2017.

Critical reception[change | change source]

The Jungle Book received an outpouring of positive reviews upon release, undoubtedly influenced by a nostalgic reaction to the passing of Walt.[14] Time noted that the movie strayed far from the Kipling stories, but "the result is thoroughly delightful...it is the happiest possible way to remember Walt Disney."[14] The New York Times called it "a perfectly dandy cartoon feature,"[25] and Life magazine described it as "the best thing of its kind since Dumbo, another short, bright, unscary and blessedly uncultivated cartoon."[31] Some negative reviews came from Judith Crist, who said the movie was "devoid of mood or atmosphere." Variety's review was generally positive, but they said that "the story development is restrained" and that younger audiences "may squirm at times."[14]

Retrospective reviews were also positive, with the movie's animation, characters and music receiving much praise throughout the years.[32] In 1990, when the movie had its last theatrical re-release, Entertainment Weekly considered that The Jungle Book "isn't a classic Walt Disney film on the order of, say, Cinderella or Pinocchio, but it's one of Disney's liveliest and funniest",[33] while the Los Angeles Times thought the movie's crew was "near the height of their talents" and the resulting movie "remains a high-spirited romp that will delight children--and parents weary of action films with body counts that exceed their box-office grosses."[34] In 2010, Empire described the movie as one that "gets pretty much everything right", regarding that the vibrant animation and catchy songs overcame the plot deficiencies.[35]

Awards[change | change source]

The song "The Bare Necessities" was nominated for Best Song at the 40th Academy Awards. It lost to "Talk to the Animals" from Doctor Dolittle.[36] Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Gregory Peck wanted this movie to be nominated for Best Picture, but he was unsuccessful.[35]

American Film Institute Lists

Legacy[change | change source]

In 1968, Disneyland Records released the album More Jungle Book, an unofficial sequel also written by screenwriter Larry Simmons, which continued the story of the movie, and included Phil Harris and Louis Prima voicing their film roles. In the record, Baloo (Harris) is missing Mowgli (Ginny Tyler), so he teams up with King Louie (Prima) and Bagheera (Dal McKennon) to take him from the man village.[40] On February 14, 2003, DisneyToon Studios in Australia released a movie sequel, The Jungle Book 2, in which Mowgli runs away from the man village to see his animal friends, unaware that Shere Khan is more determined to kill him than ever.

Elements of The Jungle Book were recycled in the later Disney animated movie Robin Hood due to that movie's limited budget, such as Baloo being inspiration for Little John (who not only was a bear, but also voiced by Phil Harris). In particular, the dance sequence between Baloo and King Louie was simply rotoscoped for Little John and Lady Cluck's dance.[41] It has been widely praised by animators, with Eric Goldberg declaring The Jungle Book "boasts possibly the best character animation a studio has ever done". The animators of Aladdin, The Lion King and Lilo & Stitch claimed to have taken some inspiration from the design and animation of the movie, and four people involved with Disney's animations, director Brad Bird and animators Andreas Deja, Glen Keane and Sergio Pablos, have declared the movie to be their inspiration for entering the business.[42]

Many characters appear in the 1990-91 animated series TaleSpin.[43] Between 1996 and 1998, the TV series Jungle Cubs told the stories of Baloo, Hahti, Bagheera, Louie, Kaa, and Shere Khan when they were children.[44]

Disney later made a live-action remake of the movie, which was more of a realistic action-adventure movie with somewhat-more adult themes. The movie, released in 1994, differs even more from the book than the animated version, but was still a box-office success. In 1998, Disney released a direct to video film called The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story.

There are two video games based on the film: The Jungle Book was a platformer released in 1993-4 for Master System, Mega Drive, Game Gear, Super NES, Game Boy and PC. A version for the Game Boy Advance was later released in 2003. The Jungle Book Groove Party was a dance mat game released in 2000 for PlayStation and PlayStation 2. Kaa and Shere Khan have also made cameo appearances in another Disney video game, Quackshot. A world based on the movie was intended to appear more than once in the Square Enix-Disney Kingdom Hearts video game series, but was omitted both times, first in the first game because it featured a similar world based on Tarzan,[45] and second in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, presumably due to time constraints, although areas of the world are accessible via hacking codes in the latter.

Since the movie's release, many of the movie's characters appeared in House of Mouse, The Lion King 1½, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Aladdin and the King of Thieves.

An artwork by British artist Banksy featuring the jungle book characters which had been commissioned by Greenpeace to help raise awareness of deforestation has gone on sale for the sum of £80,000 pounds sterling.[46]

References[change | change source]

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Other websites[change | change source]